Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan


McMillan-MurderFlamingo
After Hamish DeLuca’s anxiety gets the better of him during his first real court case as a lawyer, he runs away to his cousin, Luca Valari. Luca was the only person who never focused on Hamish’s flaw, and treated him like everyone else.

Regina Van Buren comes from high-class society stock, but she flees when decision for her life are being made for her. She finds a job working for Luca Valari, as his secretary, and begins taking steps to be an independent woman and live on her own terms.

When a dead body is found at Luca’s new night club, The Flamingo, Hamish and Regina take it upon themselves to uncover the truth, but there are some who don’t want the truth discovered.

I can’t say that I enjoyed this one. I originally decided to read the book, because of the comparison to The Thin Man movies, which I love. Sadly, the only real comparison is that Regina and Hamish occasionally call each other Nick and Nora to boost each other’s confidence.

Let’s start with what’s good. McMillan does a great job of scene-setting and pulls the reader into the time period of 1930’s Boston. The characters are well-developed. Hamish, especially, is a breath of fresh air as a male lead with a struggle like anxiety and panic attacks.

Unfortunately, I had a lot of issues with the novel.

1) This novel is marketed as Christian fiction. While it is pretty clean reading, there is nothing decidedly Christian about it. There is no mention of faith or God in any way.  

2) The murder doesn’t occur until more than halfway though the story. The first half of the novel is really just setting the tone and getting to know the characters and city.

3) The writing was sometimes hard to follow. I had to go back and re-read lines or passages several times to figure out what was being described or discussed.

4) Regina has two love interests in this novel, and I was not happy with where it was left at the end. I’m sure this will be an ongoing arc as the series continues, but with all the build-up of connection with one of the love interests, I was very disappointed with the lack of resolution, and the turn Regina took as a character.

5) Hamish and Regina kind of stumble into the truth about the murder, and solve it with little evidence or struggle. People seem to suddenly open up to them.

6) There’s an added mystery surrounding Hamish’s cousin, Luca, who has a history of bad choices and sketchy practices. This new club is supposed to be a clean start for him. He puts his office in a poorer area of the city, and no one knows why. There seems to be a connection to that part of town, and how badly the tenants are treated, to the people Luca are involved with. Hamish and Regina stumble into the answer for this as well, and there is a very climactic scene that comes from it, but it left me feeling like nothing was actually answered.

Murder mysteries are supposed to leave you feeling like you don’t know everything, but this one left me feeling like I had almost no information. I felt like I was missing vital pieces of information. Like there was something even the main characters figured out that they hadn’t let me in on. I was able to get to the end of this one, but I probably won’t be reading the next in the series.

Content Warnings: It is a murder mystery, so there is violence. A lot of scenes take place at night clubs with heavy drinking and lots of unsavory characters. Regina is also on the receiving end of some unwanted advances.

1) Overall Plot = 3
2) Characters = 4
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 3.5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 3
5) Overall Enjoyability = 2.5

Average score of 3.2 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

I received an electronic copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for an honest review.

Sandra Byrd: Author Q&A


The first book I read by Sandra Byrd was Mist of Midnight, the first novel in her (incredible!) Daughters of Hampshire series. I was hooked. Now, she has a new series in the works. The first novel, Lady of a Thousand Treasures, will be released on October 9. Sandra was kind enough to answer a few questions about writing, and I’m sharing them with you now in celebration of the new release!

 


1) What is the inspiration behind the Victorian Ladies series?

It all started with a cow creamer! I first became aware of the mania for collecting, especially among the Victorian and Edwardian British, while watching an episode of Jeeves and Wooster: Jeeves Saves the Cow Creamer. In it, a certain set of men were trying to outdo and outmaneuver one another to acquire and keep a silver cow creamer. Wodehouse played the scenes for absurdity, of course, but in that poking of fun was a truth we all recognize—collecting can become a competitive sport.

Today’s culture reflects the continuing interest in collections, and understanding and appreciating what those who came before us collected. How many of us enjoy watching Antiques Roadshow, for example? We gasp along with the owners when a rugged, torn blanket is valued at tens of thousands of dollars, or a treasure long believed to be a rare work of art is discovered to be a fake.

Collecting was and is both personal and public. Before there were museums, viewing other peoples’ collections was a way to see what they had gathered from their travels, purchased on their own, or inherited from their family.

 

2) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

From the time I could read chapter books, which was early at about the age of six.  Reading and writing are two sides of the same coin, as they say, so loving to read led to wanting to write. My first real short “novel” was about a man from the north pole and a woman from the south pole who fell in love but could not marry because of that magnetic repulsion. 😊 Needless to say, it is not in print. But it was a start!

 

3) Do you type or handwrite your first draft?

I type everything. The story flows from my brain to my fingertips!

 

4) What is your favorite part of the writing process?

I love research, and I love the actual writing of chapters when it’s going well. I like edits when the critique comes from someone I trust and respect.

 

5) Is there an aspect of writing you struggle with?

Plotting is hard, fraught-with-anxiety work for me. Without it, though, my books would not work.  So, I do it—teeth clenched—reminding myself that the fun part is coming next!

I, like all writers, struggle with, “Am I good enough? Is this book good enough? Will anyone read this, and does it really matter?” But that’s not limited to writers, methinks!

 

6) Describe your daily writing routine.

Normally, I do busy work while drinking coffee until about 10 am, when my brain is fully awake. Then I put my headphones on and dive into the work. I try to take a mid-work walk to stimulate some blood flow to my brain and seat and then get back to work.  When I start summarizing instead of writing actively on scene, it’s time to quit for the day!

 

7) Are there any authors who have influenced your writing?

Dozens! However, as pertains to this series, Victoria Holt, aka Jean Plaidy, really sparked my love for historical novels, especially those told in first person.

 

8) What’s the last novel you read and enjoyed?

It’s not the last novel I read, but it’s launching soon, Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson. I love her work.

 

9) What’s the last book you read on writing?

I like anything by Michael Hague or KM Weiland, so I revisit their works (and heartily recommend them) often!

 


Thank you SO much, Sandra, for taking the time to answer my questions!

LadyThousandTreasuresOrder
Sandra is hosting a pre-order giveaway, so be sure to check that out. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy, so you can expect a review from me soon. In the meantime, you can pre-order your copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook.com, or other retailers.

 

Be sure to visit Sandra online: www.sandrabyrd.com